Foxconn closed its plant in the city of Taiyuan in northern China’s Shaanxi province on Monday after a brawl involving 2,000 workers broke out in a dormitory late on Sunday night, according to Reuters:
The Taiyuan plant, which employs about 79,000 workers, makes automobile electronic components, consumer electronic components and precision moldings. An employee told Reuters the plant also makes parts and assembles Apple’s iPhone 5.
In a statement, Foxconn cited police as saying about 40 people were taken to hospital for medical attention and a number were arrested.
The company said the incident escalated from what it called a personal dispute between several employees at around 11 p.m. on Sunday in a privately managed dormitory, and was brought under control by local police at around 3 a.m.
Taiwan-based Foxconn is the world’s largest contract maker of electronic goods and has come under fire along with Apple for the labor conditions at its China factories, though a report released last month found that conditions were improving. The New York Times reported that unconfirmed photographs and video emerged on social media showing riot police and smashed windows at what is believed to be Foxconn’s Taiyuan plant:
Geoffrey Crothall, spokesman for the China Labor Bulletin, a nonprofit advocacy group in Hong Kong seeking collective bargaining and other protections for workers in mainland China, said workers in China had become increasingly emboldened.
“They’re more willing to stand up for their rights, to stand up to injustice,” he said.
The same Taiyuan factory was the site of a brief strike during a pay dispute last March, Hong Kong media reported then.
Social media postings suggested that some injuries might have occurred when people were trampled in crowds of protesters.
See also “Meet China’s Factory Workers” from CDT.